Draft transportation plan includes little money for Southwest Washington

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Details are sparse on negotiations over a state transportation package that would raise the gas tax and pay for new projects across the state, but a recent draft circulated among lawmakers included less money for Southwest Washington than other parts of the state.

The draft, a proposal made this fall by transportation co-chair Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, would raise the gas tax 11.5 cents a gallon and generate

$12.3 billion for transportation improvements across the state. However, Clark County would get just $41.4 million in new projects under the plan. The package also would make $35 million available for local governments in Clark County to use on their roads.

The draft includes the $1.6 billion Puget Sound Gateway in Pierce and King counties, $1.3 billion in improvements to state Highway 520 in Seattle, and $750 million for the North Spokane Corridor.

King's plan is similar to the transportation plan that failed in the Legislature earlier this year, but it's been reworked and no longer includes $450 million for the controversial Columbia River Crossing project.

Instead, it would provide $7 million for a railway overpass on Pioneer Street in Ridgefield, $7.5 million to widen state Highway 502 in Battle Ground, $1.9 million for rail improvements in west Vancouver, and $25 million in improvements to Interstate 205.

According to Southwest Washington's Regional Transportation Council, Southwest Washington will require more than $1.25 billion in transportation projects and $700 million in transportation preservation and repairs during the next decade.

It's unknown whether King's plan has changed since he released the draft earlier this fall. Carrie Shaw, a spokeswoman for the Senate's Republican-led majority caucus, said Tuesday that details aren't being released because lawmakers are still negotiating.